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Johnny Depp forced to quit Fantastic Beasts after losing libel case

Written by on 7 November 2020

Johnny Depp has been forced to quit his role in Fantastic Beasts 3 after his unsuccessful libel trial against The Sun newspaper.

The star said he had agreed to a request to resign, adding in a social media post that the “surreal judgment” of the High Court trial “will not change my fight to tell the truth”.

Depp‘s involvement in the Harry Potter spin-off was the catalyst for the entire civil case after he sued News Group Newspapers Ltd (NGN) over a column which ran both in print and online.

Originally titled “Gone Potty: How can J K Rowling be ‘genuinely happy’ casting wife beater Johnny Depp in the new Fantastic Beasts film?”, it was published in April 2018 and written by executive editor Dan Wootton.

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Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard both gave evidence in court

The Hollywood star told the High Court the articles had caused serious harm to his personal and professional reputation, and that the paper’s intention was to “finish” his career. However, the judge did not find in his favour.

The role of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald will now be re-cast, and another actor will replace Depp in the role.

In a statement on Instagram, Depp said: “In light of recent events, I would like to make the following short statement.

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“Firstly I’d like to thank everybody who has gifted me with their support and loyalty.

“I have been humbled and moved by your many messages of love and concern, particularly over the last few days.

“Secondly, I wish to let you know that i have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected that and agreed to that request.

“Finally I wish to say this. The surreal judgement of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 02: Johnny Depp attends the "Crock of Gold: A few Rounds with Shane McGowan" premiere during the 16th Zurich Film Festival at Kino Corso on October 02, 2020 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for ZFF)
Image:
Depp announced he was stepping down from the role on Instagram

“My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time.

“Thank you for reading. Sincerely Johnny Depp.”

Warner Bros announced that someone else would take over as Grindelwald.

In a statement, the film studio said: “Johnny Depp will depart the Fantastic Beasts franchise. We thank Johnny for his work on the films to date. Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently in production, and the role of Gellert Grindelwald will be recast. The film will debut in theatres worldwide in the summer of 2022.”

A spokesman for J K Rowling told Sky News she will not be commenting on Depp’s departure from the franchise.

JK Rowling
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JK Rowling wrote Fantastic Beasts – but hasn’t commented on Depp’s departure

In the high profile court judgment earlier this week, Judge Justice Nicol ruled that the tabloid’s report on allegations that he was violent towards ex-wife Amber Heard was “substantially true”.

During the hearing, the court was told of Depp’s extensive use of drink and drugs, read texts in which he called his ex-wife a “witch” and suggested burning her, and shown videos of him punching and hitting kitchen cupboards.

In his ruling, the judge said that while Depp, 57, “proved the necessary elements of his cause of action in libel”, NGN showed that what they published was “substantially true”.

Depp has always denied being violent towards Heard, 34, insisting that he was in fact the abused party in the relationship.

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Depp was dropped from Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise back in 2018, shortly after Heard published an opinion piece about sexual violence for the Washington Post.

An entirely separate US case over the article is is due to go before another judge in Virginia next May. Depp is suing Heard for $50m (£39m) while Heard is countersuing him for $100 (£78m).

The piece did not specifically mention Depp by name.

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Depp had played Captain Jack Sparrow five times across 14 years, bringing in big box office returns for the family friendly films.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 is currently back up and filming in the UK after being put on hold earlier in the year due to coronavirus.

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English actors Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law will reprise their roles as Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore respectively.

The action will take place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, after the first film was set in New York City and the second movie – The Crimes of Grindelwald – took place in Paris.